In the last few weeks, most of us have encountered some version of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge.
In the initial run-up to Christmas, I must admit I am often a bit of a curmudgeon myself. Perhaps it is hearing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” in November, or perhaps it is the growing list of obligatory gatherings I need to add to an already busy schedule.
Whatever the reason, I find myself resisting the season of Christmas. However, in December something always flips for me, and I make peace with the spirit of the season. I start to embrace the busyness and gift-giving with anticipation. Even the decorations and festive music are things I come to enjoy, and it is easy to give generously in the hope that others will share in the joy of Christmas, too. The family gathers, dinner and laughter ensue, and in the blink of an eye another Christmas is over, and the new year has begun.
I am always a little sad when quiet returns to the house and the visual reminders like lights, trees and decorations come down. All too often, the spirit of generosity, so prevalent during the holidays, gets packed away for another year, too.
Wouldn’t it be much better if we kept that spirit throughout the year? The charities we love to give to during the holidays, and the people who benefit, don’t stop needing support when the carols are finished playing. The good feeling we get from giving is the same in January or July as it is in December.
What is it about the Christmas season that inspires us to be a little more selfless then? How do we preserve the generous spirit of Christmas year-round?
Maintaining our generous ways throughout the year requires us to keep our sights on the source of our Christmas generosity. The advent of Jesus on earth signified God’s love for humanity, and in December we are surrounded by constant reminders of that love. It can be harder to focus on the birth of Jesus in the middle of July, but the love and generosity it signifies is no less important.
During the holidays, we often spend generously on gifts for others, easily putting their joy ahead of our own interests. We make financial adjustments because we decide that giving a particular gift is worth it. This thinking needn’t be limited to Christmas; generosity is a choice that holds true throughout the year. Waiting to give until we have “enough” likely means we will never get around to it. Instead, we can choose to fit giving into our lives right now. Don’t worry about the size of your gift. Just start giving something, give regularly, and see where it takes you.
January is the perfect time to begin practising new habits. In my work at Abundance Canada, I am constantly inspired by our clients’ generosity. Their gifts, no matter the size, make a huge difference for hundreds of charities that make the world a better place every day. There are many ways we can help you make generosity a part of your life. Talk to us about the benefits of a gifting account, or ask us how we can help you make gifts in your will.
At the end of A Christmas Carol, the transformed Ebenezer Scrooge vows to honour Christmas in his heart and try to keep it all through the year. Dickens assures us his curmudgeon protagonist went on to “keep Christmas well,” adding, “May that be truly said of us, and all of us!” As I sweep up the pine needles from the tree and finish the last of the Christmas leftovers, I am already planning the ways I will keep my generosity unboxed this year. What will you do?
Darren Pries-Klassen is the executive director of Abundance Canada. For more than 40 years, Abundance Canada has effectively helped Canadians with their charitable giving in their lifetime and through their estate. To learn more, visit abundance.ca or call 1-800-772-3257 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.